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(+44) Adds Up After blink-182

Of the Oakland Press

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Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker didn’t take any time to decompress from Tom DeLonge’s acrimonious departure from blink-182 in early 2005.

“The day Tom’s manager called and said Tom quit, Travis and I were at the rehearsal space waiting for Tom to show up to rehearse for a tsunami benefit show,” singerbassist Hoppus recalls. “We were already there, so we started playing instruments at that rehearsal.

“I think it was either the next day or the next week we moved into Travis’ basement and started writing some ideas down, and those became the songs for the record.”

The album is “When Your Heart Stops Beating,” and it’s the fi rst salvo from (+44), the new band Hop pus and Barker formed in the wake of DeLonge’s defection. They took the band name from the first digits of the international calling code for England, added guitarists Craig Fairbaugh — who played with drummer Barker in his side band, the Transplants — and Shane Gallagher, and brought in longtime blink-182 producer Jerry Finn to help craft a record that retains some

of its blink’s tuneful punk feel but also rocks in other directions.

“It’s pretty schizophrenic,” Hoppus, 34, says of (+44)’s debut, which came out Tuesday. “There’s a lot of different things going on in it. I think there’s cohesion to the record, but I think it’s very different and all over the place — in a good way.”

It’s also definitely a rock ’n’ roll album and not the electronic set that was rumored when reports began surfacing about (+44). Hoppus says he and Barker were responsible for that bit of misinformation — but not intentionally.

“We did two interviews in the very beginning ... and they asked us what it sounds like,” Hoppus says. “And we said, ‘Right now, it’s really electronic, and Travis is writing in the basement on keyboards and electronic drums, and I’m plugging my guitar and bass directly into the computer ...’

“And then we shut down the press machine, so all anybody had to go on was those two interviews we did where we said it was electronic. But once we actually moved into a real studio and Travis could play his drums and we could be loud and actually make noise, the rock element took over entirely.”

“When Your Heart Stops Beating” also touches on the rocky end of blink-182 and the duo’s animosity toward DeLonge. It’s couched in nonspecific relationship lines such as, “This isn’t just goodbye/ This is ‘I can’t stand you,’ ” but Hoppus acknowledges that he did view the album as “my chance to speak my mind on it.”

That said, he adds, “I didn’t write every song about blink-182 by any means. There’s two songs that are kind of about it and one song that touches on it, but that’s about it.”

Ultimately, Hoppus says, he and Barker are more concerned with establishing their new band than dredging through their past.

“I really have no idea what to expect,” he says. “We’re a brand new band. We’re going out and working as hard as we can, and we’re excited people still have this much interest in us after this amount of time has elapsed. We’ve written the best record that we could, and hopefully people like it.

“That’s all we can do, y’know?”

(+44) and the Matches perform at the 89X Fifteen Minutes of Fame concert Wednesday (November 22nd) at St. Andrew's Hall, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are sold out. Proceeds from ticket sales are going to United Way of Detroit and the Michigan Humane Society. Call (313) 961-6358.

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